Exclusive: Lucas Till on Paranoia and X-Men: Days of Future Past
August 2, 2013
It's remarkable that Lucas Till first crossed the radar of genre fans when he starred in 2011's Battle: Los Angeles and X-Men: First Class at the mere age of nineteen. But the Texas native hasn't slowed down since. Earlier this year, Till appeared in Park Chan-wook's acclaimed Stoker and this month finds him acting alongside film titans Harrison Ford and Gary Oldman in the techno thriller Paranoia (due out on the 16th). Meanwhile, 2014 will see him return to the role of Alex Summers (a.k.a. Havok, Cyclops' brother) in Bryan Singer's X-Men: Days of Future Past. Till spoke with me yesterday in Beverly Hills about the latter two films. Read what he had to say below.
ComingSoon.net: It's impressive that you're able to craft a seemingly spontaneous performance as Liam Hemsworth's programmer buddy Aaron in "Paranoia," a film which features juggernaut scene-stealers like Harrison Ford and Gary Oldman.
Lucas Till: I was really f**king nervous. That's probably where the spontaneity was coming from. [Laughs.] With Gary, I have a scene but I don't really say anything. With Harrison, I have a scene and I say something to him [on the phone], but I wasn't really talking to him when we shot it. "Mr. Ford, are you on the line? I'm really not feeling this." [Laughs.] Yeah, I've looked up to them… Gary's been around so long, but a lot of the time with him it was almost like a retro thing, igniting all this gasoline that was already in my brain, but I never knew – "Wait a minute, that was him?!" He has such a different kind of success than Harrison Ford, because Harrison is f**king Han Solo and he's Indiana Jones and his character from "The Fugitive." The definition of a movie star. And Gary's like the definition of something beyond a brilliant actor. It astounds me when I watch him – "How the hell did he do that?"
So just to be in a movie with those two was already nerve-wracking enough. But Liam [Hemsworth] is such a chill nice dude and [director] Robert [Luketic] was so great to work with, because he's just a nice guy, you know? And he knows what he wants. He's a very competent director obviously. Just the contrast between this movie and "21" and "Legally Blonde" and "Tad Hamilton." To be able to do those two different types of movies and be able to accomplish them well in their own demographics and please those people specifically, it's impressive. And to be able to work for a guy like that speaks volumes.
CS: Your character, a computer programmer, is perhaps the most tech savvy in the film. How do your own tech skills measure up to his?
Till: I'm really into video games. I've got one right here. I play video games all the time. It keeps me from drinking and doing drugs… sometimes. [Laughs.] But taking stuff apart with tools and stuff like that – it's always fascinated me, but I've never had enough patience for it. So I'm literally jabbing metal objects into phones and ripping them apart just for fun. I had no idea what the f**k I was talking about. [Laughs.] But I did look up the terminology. A lot of it I knew, but a lot of it got cut out I think. I haven't seen the movie yet. There was a lot of terminology that was mind-numbing – codes and stuff like that. I was like, "What does it mean?!"
CS: You and Liam each have a franchise you're starring in alongside Jennifer Lawrence…
Till: Liam and I were in a car… I wouldn't describe Liam as a shy guy, but he's kind of like me: I can talk a lot when I have to. But a lot of times I just sit there… There was this one time we were in a cab shooting an insert. I was like, "So, Hunger Games, huh?" "Yeah, yeah… X-Men's coming out."" Yeah. I think there's another one coming up." That was all we said. [Laughs.]
CS: What can you tell us about "X-Men: Days of Future Past"?
Till: Basically, a war is taking place in one of the timelines. In the "First Class" cast's timeline there's a war during around the time of President Nixon you may be familiar with. That I may or may not be involved in. [Laughs.] That's kind of my involvement there. It was fun to just show up and use my blasts and get to go back to my other movie. It was a nice vacation.
CS: Did you have a chance to work with any of the original "X-Men" cast members in any of your scenes?
Till: The original cast… I don't think so. I keep forgetting, man.
CS: There are a lot of actors in this film.
Till: Yeah, I know! [Laughs.] Did you see that panel at Comic-Con? I was like, "Good Lord!" Avengers has nothing on this.
CS: From a casting standpoint alone, this is the most ambitious superhero movie ever attempted.
Till: Right, yeah. And the story is incredible.
CS: It's based in part of course on the two-issue story in "X-Men" 141 and 142. Havok doesn't feature in that tale, but there have been sequels to that comic story. Did you read the original or any of its sequels in preparation?
Till: I just read the original.
CS: There are rumors that James Marsden will reprise his role as Cyclops, if only briefly, in this film. So fans are wondering if the two of you might meet on screen.
Till: No. I really want to. I'd be looking forward to that. But all we really know is they share the same last name.
CS: Were you a fan of the original "X-Men" films growing up?
Till: Oh yeah, big time. The animated series and then the comics later. But yeah, I grew up with "X-Men" big time. I was a huge fan. I think I was the only one at work annoying the sh*t out of everybody – "Yo, dude. We're in X-Men, bro!" [Laughs.] It was fun though. Too much fun. I loved those movies. And to be a part of them? It still hasn't hit me yet.
CS: In light of "Avengers," they're pioneering films.
Till: They pioneered the ensemble superhero film. Yeah!
CS: Having read the original comics in which this film's story takes place, can you comment on how faithfully the film mirrors those comics?
Till: No. [Laughs.] Actually, I can't because I’ve haven't even read the script for "Days of Future Past" because they are so [secretive].
CS: You just had your part?
Till: Yeah, exactly. I've been trying to piecemeal the story by talking to other cast members. But they're like, "Sh*t, I don't know." So you can't even get the whole story yet. But I love that. Because I want to see it fresh, you know? So I like that I can't figure it out.
CS: Are there any shout-outs to Havok's original comic-book costume in this film? It was quite… distinct. Do you get a chance to work his headbands?
Till: No. Yeah, I'm so glad that's not in the movie. [Laughs.] That's the one thing… In the last movie the one thing I was really upset about. Not in the way John Dykstra, who I have so much respect for and is always creative, did it. I love that there was an arc for him. But when I found out initially, thirty seconds before I had to do those hula hoop things that I'd never really seen Havok do in the comics [laughs], I wasn't too happy about it. Bryan gave me a lot of liberty in this one to do what I wanted to do, and what I've seen in the comics, and maybe reinvent it a little bit. But that was the only thing that really kind of bugged me, and hopefully we can remedy that in this one. It's always out of his body in some way. It's never out of any specific part. Sometimes it's both hands forward. So I got to play around with it.
CS: Bryan lent realism to the concentration camp scene in the first "X-Men" film. Did he bring that to the Vietnam sequences in "Days of Future Past"?
Till: Wait till you see it. That's all I'm gonna say. [Laughs.]
CS: You mentioned you don't interact with the original cast. Do you get to reteam with any of the First Class cast?
Till: Yeah! But again, I'll leave that to the imagination, because I don't want to spoil it for other people, you know? [Laughs.]
CS: Thanks for your time, Lucas.
Till: My pleasure, man!